It is a longing held within the hearts of many: to be truly and authentically known. To be loved and valued completely.
We travel through life catching glimpses of what it means to be accepted. There are relationships that nourish us. There are environments that center us.
Yet, the longing often remains. We want people to love us just as we are. We crave places and spaces where we feel comfortable and safe.
Jesus knows us. Entirely and all the way. On this last Wednesday before Holy Week, "knows" is our verb for the day.
Throughout the Gospels, Jesus does a lot of knowing. He knows what people are thinking. He knows people's motivations. He knows people's histories and hearts. This is especially true in the Gospel of John, where the word know is used more than 90 times.
There's an example of the way Jesus knows in the first chapter of John. Jesus is calling and gathering his disciples. He sees Nathanael coming down the road and calls out to him. Nathanael says, "How do you know me?" They had never met. Jesus tells Nathanael that he was able to see him before they had even met. Jesus knew him all along. He knows us, too.
Jesus knows our irrational worries, hurts and regrets. Jesus knows our happiest moments, joyful interactions and successes, too.
For Christ, knowing is not passive. It's active. In the Gospels, another word that is sometimes used for "know" is "perceive." Jesus perceives what's going on. He recognizes hypocrisy and injustice. Jesus recognizes the realities of all situations from every possible angle. He is aware.
Isn't that often what we want most? For someone to just be aware. We don't necessarily need or expect anyone to fix it all in an instant (though there are times when I sure wish life worked that way). Instead, we yearn for someone to know and to care. Jesus does.
For most of us, our deepest hurts are all-too-private. We suffer deeply the wounds of a broken world. It is a comfort to know that Jesus gets it, and with Christ, we never need to sugarcoat a thing.
It is obvious in the Gospel of John that Jesus does not want all the knowing for himself. He longs that we, too, might know and experience the truth. He says in John 8:32, "You shall know the truth and the truth will set you free."
In John 17:3, Jesus is praying to God shortly before his death. He describes what eternal life is. It's knowing God. Jesus prays, "And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.
We long to be known, and we are. In Jesus, we are understood and accepted. Loved and treasured. There are times when we find ourselves in the midst of things we cannot and may never understand. In those chapters of life, Jesus reminds us of his nearness. He knows the depth of our pain and experience, and he promises to never turn away. Jesus knows. Eternally.
The Lady Pastor is a weekly column by Emily Carson. She is a Lutheran pastor serving at the Southeastern Minnesota Synod Office in Rochester. Visit her blog at: www.emilyannecarson.com.